Almost 1000 Canadian youth commit to graduating smoke-free in R.E.W.A.R.D.S. Program's first year.



    VANCOUVER, Jan. 20 /CNW/ - National anti-smoking foundation
R.E.W.A.R.D.S. (Rewarding Everyone Who Acts Responsibly and Doesn't Smoke) is
celebrating their first year anniversary since launching a new national
program aimed at curbing the rate of teenage smoking in Canada.
    "This is a unique program in that it gives a tangible reward to young
people who agree to complete high school, while remaining smoke-free," says
R.E.W.A.R.D.S. program President Samy Bishay.
    "Almost 1000 young people from every province and territory made a
commitment to graduate smoke-free this year." The program launched in
conjunction with National Non-Smoking Week one year ago today.
    Due to hundreds of requests, the program expanded from its original
target of grades 5-8 to now include all youth in school no matter what grade,
offering them an opportunity to earn a $5,000 cash incentive for simply
graduating high school smoke-free.
    Students must submit a R.E.W.A.R.D.S. agreement, promising not to smoke
throughout the duration of their high school years and enlist four sponsors
who promise to donate $25 or more each month, under the students' name, to the
R.E.W.A.R.D.S. Foundation until they graduate.
    The sponsors get the opportunity to support the student in their goal,
while receiving charitable tax receipts for their donations. During the
program, students have access to a life skills program and other fun and
educational incentives. Following graduation, the successful smoke-free
students receive their $5,000 grant. The grant will be used for education that
leads to independence - the ability to earn an income and avoid being a burden
on society.
    "This is a hand-up not a handout," says Bishay. We hope to inspire
teachers, principals and anyone else who cares about keeping kids smoke-free
to get involved, and support students in their goal to graduate smoke-free."
    According to the Canadian Lung Association, quitting smoking is the
single best thing an individual can do to improve their health and their
overall quality of life. "Obviously never starting is even better", says
Bishay.
    Here is a quote from one of the many children who have made the
commitment to graduate smoke-free,
    "My grandfather died of lung cancer from smoking a week ago and my father
smokes as well. I will never take even a drag of cigarette smoke as it has
caused so much heartbreak and loss in my family. It is a terrible habit and
even with all the information we are given about the effects of smoking, teens
still choose to take it up "to look cool". This is a great program to reward
the smoke free teens that are trying to make a future for themselves by going
to university/ college and carrying on a healthy smoke free lifestyle. Thank
you so much for this opportunity "
    With the R.E.W.A.R.D.S. program we're not asking the student to brave
their smoke-free journey alone. It's as simple as finding about four sponsors,
making the commitment not to smoke, graduating and taking home $5,000 cash."
    For more information or to download a brochure on the R.E.W.A.R.D.S
program, visit www.my5k.ca





For further information:

For further information: Reference: Samy Bishay, President,
R.E.W.A.R.D.S, 1-877-444-MY5K, sbishay@my5k.ca and www.rewardsfoundation.org

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R.E.W.A.R.D.S. FOUNDATION

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